It’s official: western quolls are now permanent residents in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges National Park. After years of extinction in an area once abundant with the feisty carnivores, a planeload of western quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii) arrived courtesy of the Western Australian government last month, with 20 female and 17 male quolls released in Wilpena Pound.
The 37 new quolls join an existing population of around 50 quolls that are the result of a trial release in April last year, including offspring born since the initial release.
A joint project between the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) and the South Australian Department of the Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), the formal release of the quolls on May 6 was a celebration of success in conservation. The SSAA was invited to attend the special occasion after years of involvement by SSAA SA Conservation & Wildlife Management (CWM) in feral goat, fox and cat control in the release area through the Bounceback Project, as well as a $60,000 donation to FAME by SSAA National.
FAME CEO Cheryl Hill described the release as an incredible success. “Everyone attending the formal release left with a sense of achievement,” she said. “This project would not be possible without the removal of foxes from the area, with the parks now virtually free from foxes, and for that we can thank the Bounceback Project.
“Although there are still some feral cats in the area, quolls are known to survive in the presence of cats...The important thing is the foxes have been controlled.”
Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, was present at the release and praised the involvement of the SSAA and other groups in the flagship project. “Here we have an opportunity...because of 20 years of consistent effort by state government, national parks, the rangers, the Indigenous people and even the Sporting Shooters’ Association,” he said in his speech.
Around 35 guests including representatives from the SSAA attended the release, which received national media attention on Channel 7, the ABC and the Sydney press.
SSAA SA President David Handyside, who also attended the release, said SSAA members can proudly associate their name with the project. “Not only did SSAA National donate a considerable sum towards the cause, but SSAA SA CWM members in particular have assisted in feral animal control in the national parks for years now, which has been credited for paving the way for the quolls to survive,” he said.
DEWNR’s fauna reintroduction team will continue monitoring and tracking the quolls, with a final release expected next year. FAME is also preparing to release brush-tailed possums in the same area in the coming months, with the final aspects of the project to be finalised.
FAME thanks SSAA National
I think that all Australians should know that responsible firearm ownership and use for the benefit of wildlife and conservation goes beyond what they are told by the mainstream media. For instance, the hard work of SSAA members over many years in the Flinders Ranges has reduced fox and goat numbers to the point where endangered wildlife can survive and thrive there for the first time in living memory.
All this, plus the strong support of the SSAA and members for community projects, such as reintroducing the western quoll in South Australia, means wildlife has a better chance, and bringing back locally extinct species is possible.
On behalf of the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME), I’d like to thank the SSAA for helping with pest and feral animal control in the Flinders Ranges, and congratulate you all for getting on with the job at hand.
Australian wildlife like the western quoll needs your help, and we are very pleased to be working with you.